If you follow our social media, routinely you see us post fun visual pictures that challenge you to either find something hidden, distinguish between multiple perceived images, identify differences or other obscure details. Why do we post these things and what do they have to do with vision therapy?
There are many skills involved with developing a strong visual system. We work with our patients to build or refine these skills in areas they may be lacking. The skill we are focusing on with these visual puzzles is visual discrimination. Visual discrimination is the ability to identify an object from an image or to distinguish between objects with different characteristics – size, shape, color, position, directionality, patterns, etc. – and recognize the details. This is ultimately a visual perceptual skill. Someone who struggles with visual discrimination may reverse letters, incorrectly identify words, and even have trouble understanding and interpreting the environment around them.
Putting together a puzzle illustrates the need for this important visual skill. Visualize (another important visual skill) 1000 puzzle pieces on a table in front of you. Where would you begin? You have to be able to distinguish between colors, shapes, patterns, and angles in order to be successful. We often start by sorting out the edge pieces. They eye has to be able to identify straight lines among the chaos. This also involves visual figure ground perception – picking up on details while ignoring extraneous visual information. Once your frame is in place, sorting remaining pieces by color or pattern and identifying pieces that fit together rely on visual discrimination and figure ground perception as well.
In addition to puzzles, sorting activities, word searches, I Spy, ‘find the difference’ puzzles, Hidden Pictures, or Parquetry blocks are all fabulous activities to practice these skills.
Answer to top photo: Cow